As the Citizenship Application papers lay on the desk awaiting signature and submission (with a bundle of other documents yet to be collated), it is with bittersweet memories that I reflect on the 4 years we have spent in Australia.
Bittersweet in that on boarding our Australia-bound flight on a balmy spring evening in November 2008, our hearts were breaking as we left our beloved families behind, but on arrival in Brisbane, and after a two hour drive West, found a better life for our little family.
Overcome with trepidation at not knowing a single soul and having never met the people that offered hubby his first job in this great wide land, we embarked on an adventure of discovery that continues to this day!
And as I sit here on my back verandah thinking of everyone back in South Africa, I am overcome with emotion – for missing family members who are yet to experience this country in all its beauty and freedom.
Although the sun still rises in the East and sets in the West, I am aware of how much our lives have changed and am constantly reminded of how very lucky we are to have been accepted into a country where we no longer have to keep looking over our shoulders for fear of danger that could at any time envelop us in its clutches.
A concealed weapon is no longer carried or locked in a safe bolted to the wall and ever-present features of South African homes such as iron burglar bars and security gates have been replaced by fly screens and, 6-foot (or electrified) fences by 3 or 4-strand wire fencing merely to keep the animals in and not the burglars out, allowing us uninterrupted views of the cattle grazing in the neighbouring farm’s paddocks.
Don’t get me wrong, we haven’t become too complacent – I don’t think the fear ever quite leaves you – and although Australia still experiences crime, at least we now know that the noise on the roof in the middle of the night is just the local possum and her little family coming out to forage for their dinner.
Fortunately for us, but in no way forgetting our real families, we have truly been Blessed with a lot of wonderful new friends who have become our adopted family and for this we are thankful as family visits are non-existent due to the high price of tickets – but as my Mom says “All in God’s time”. With the kids growing by the day and their Aussie accents a prominent feature in our home, let’s hope His time is not too far off.
And whilst those days of despair – which most new immigrants experience during settling in – grow few and far between, the excitement of imminent Citizenship is gaining momentum in our household.
I used to have a key ring that said “Grow where God plants you” and every now and then those words come to mind as I drive to work from the outer-lying, almost rural suburb where we live, car doors unlocked and with the warm country breeze kissing my cheeks through an open window, admiring the beauty surrounding me – because that’s exactly what we have done. Like the new spring leaves that sprout and unfurl to show their faces to the sun, so, too, have we sprouted and flourished under the hot Australian sky.
So, as we take these final steps in securing our future, it is with honour and pride that we look forward to publicly affirming our loyalty to Australia by becoming Citizens and reciting the following words:
“From this time forward, under God,
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
whose democratic beliefs I share,
whose rights and liberties I respect, and
whose laws I will uphold and obey.”
This is ‘stralia mate – our home.
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